Clippers take Al-Farouq Aminu with first-round draft pick


Rebounding, presumably, will not be an issue for the Clippers next season.

Al-Farouq Aminu, the 6-foot-9 forward from Wake Forest blessed with a 7-3 wingspan, will join Blake Griffin in the Clippers’ frontcourt, giving them a formidable one-two punch.

Not only could the Clippers have two first-round selections debuting in the starting lineup, but there could be three first-rounders from the last two drafts on the court next season.

That intriguing scenario became possible not long after they, as expected, took Aminu with the No. 8 pick in the first round in the NBA Draft on Thursday. They later traded a future first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for point guard Eric Bledsoe of Kentucky. The Clippers took shooting guard Willie Warren of Oklahoma in the second round with the 54th pick.

Oklahoma City had taken Bledsoe at No. 18. The 6-1 Bledsoe hit a school-record eight three-pointers against East Tennessee State in the NCAA tournament and will add depth to that woefully thin position for the Clippers.

Not that the small forward spot runneth over, either. Aminu, who played power forward at Wake Forest, is projected to move to the three.

“The thought process is that we have a gaping hole at small forward,” General Manager Neil Olshey said. “There will be a learning curve for Al-Farouq. He’s only 19. He played out of position as a four at Wake Forest to help his team.

“But we think his eventual position is small forward. He was one of the few players in this draft we felt was the best combination of need and talent, production and potential.”

Aminu said getting drafted felt “kind of unreal,” adding that he had to play power forward out of necessity and felt more comfortable at small forward. Last season, as a sophomore, he led the Atlantic Coast Conference in rebounding, averaging 10.7 rebounds per game and 15.8 points.

So bring on the rebounding contest with Griffin, who went No. 1 overall last season but did not play because of a stress fracture of his left kneecap that required surgery.

“I’m going to try to make it a competition,” Aminu said, via conference call, after being prompted. “I’ll have to grab more than him.”

The Clippers said they will not need to rush Aminu, a descendant of Nigerian kings.

“It’s a really nice building block when you look at the foundation of Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin, Al-Farouq Aminu, all under 21 years old,” Olshey said. “The athleticism and upside and potential they have, I’ll put it up against anybody in the league.”

Said team President Andy Roeser: “Now you look at it and say we’ve got a player for every position. We’ve still got players to fill out with free agency coming and we are going to be very active.”

Speaking of July 1 and the start of free agency, the Clippers could actually have a coach by then. They are expected to begin bringing in candidates within days, and Roeser said a coach would be named in “due course.”

He was asked for his definition of due course. He said by the time they get into free agency, “we’ll have our coaching situation resolved.”

Among the candidates, according to NBA sources, are Dallas assistant coach Dwane Casey and former Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro.